NCAA's Swim Controversy Drowns out Real Storylines

March 21, 2022

Not everyone at last weekend's NCAA women's swimming championship raced against Lia Thomas -- but they were all overshadowed by him. For hundreds of girls who'd worked years to get to this moment, that was the greatest tragedy of the circus that unfolded in Atlanta. Despite all of the interesting rivalries and personal bests, what most people will remember wasn't the girls' triumph and hard work -- but the controversy. For every parent, coach, and swimmer, Thomas wasn't just part of the story. He was the story.

The blame for that, everyone will agree, rests squarely on the shoulders of the NCAA. The sports association, which allowed one selfish swimmer to hijack an entire year of competition, is now public enemy number one to every family whose daughter lost the chance for a fair and equal meet. The group's inclusion of one man resulted in the exclusion of an entire class of women -- some of whom will graduate without ever placing where they deserved.

Tanya and Jeff Thatcher, parents of three swimmers, couldn't help but wonder, "Do the men who run the NCAA and USA Swimmers have sisters or daughters?" "We are not scientists," the couple wrote in the Federalist. "... In the end, though, it doesn't take science for most people to know what is really fair and inclusive. And what is happening in the NCAA is neither. Thomas has rights, but those rights should not trample on the rights of women with smaller hearts to pump oxygen, smaller lungs to breathe while coming up for air, smaller hands to pull the water, and smaller feet to propel them across the pool."

Thomas is not -- as he told Sports Illustrated -- "a woman, just like anyone else on the team." He has male genitalia, male genes, he's undergone puberty, grown man-sized muscles, and produced testosterone. It's frankly impossible to be less female than Lia Thomas. And yet, Kellie-Jay Keen, a women's rights activist, was debating a trans activist at the meet and pointed at Thomas to make her argument. "I'm a woman, and that's not a woman." When the extremist demanded to know if she was a "biologist," she replied, "Don't be ridiculous. I'm not a vet, but I know what a dog is."

That's the kind of willful delusion that Reka Gyorgy, a swimmer who missed the cut to finals because Thomas stole a spot, bravely tackled in a fierce open letter to the NCAA. The association "knew what was coming," she argued. It's because of their "lack of interest in protecting their athletes" that girls like her have been hurt. "Every event that transgender athletes competed in was one spot taken away from biological females throughout the meet." From parents inside the arena to protestors outside, there was one unmistakable message to the NCAA: fix this and never let it happen again.

The story had such national implications that it even spilled over into politics, where candidates running for offices across the country followed Rep. Vicky Hartzler's (R-Mo.) lead to make this a new centerpiece of their races. From New Jersey to Texas and Virginia, candidates reminded people that they're parents first, insisting that our daughters' victories are being "sacrificed on the altar of tolerance by individuals who's made a mockery of Title IX."

If the NCAA won't listen to fans and families, maybe it'll listen to the government. Concerned Women of America filed a national complaint, arguing that it had violated Title IX. On Friday, the group's general counsel, Mario Diaz insisted that women are "being trampled. "Their rights are being violated in plain view for everyone to see. And it's just incredibly disappointing to see the Department of Education not moving faster to ensure they have the opportunities they are supposed to get required by law."

Girls are being expected to share locker rooms with 6'3" Thomas, change in front of him, and what is the University of Pennsylvania's response? Shut up and suck it up, according to his teammates. The leaders at Penn claim that Joe Biden's executive orders and the Supreme Court's Bostock decision redefining "sex" requires them to let Thomas swim. Diaz says, "They're pretending that this is the case -- just like we continue to pretend that Lia is a woman... But the law is clear. One of the things that was fundamentally clear [in Bostock that] Justice [Neil] Gorsuch made clear... was that it was not being applied to Title IX, which is where the law protects women and student athletes."

Now, thanks to the twisting of that decision and the radicalism of the Biden administration, there are no safe spaces for women, even though that's what the law demands. If the Left wants to change that, "they need to fight for it. But this is not what women have been fighting for more than 50 years."

As the Thatchers' daughter said to them: "Don't they understand that all it takes is three transgender swimmers in each event and a woman will never again stand on the podium at any of these collegiate championships ever again?" The Left understands. It just doesn't care -- and it won't until we speak loudly enough to make them.